Senator: Fukushima Fuel Pool Is a National Security Issue for AMERICA

George Washington's picture

Fukushima Fuel Pools Are an American National Security Issue

After visiting Fukushima, Senator Ron Wyden warned that the situation was worse than reported … and urged Japan to accept international help to stabilize dangerous spent fuel pools.

An international coalition of nuclear scientists and non-profit groups are calling on the U.N. to coordinate a multi-national effort to stabilize the fuel pools. And see this.

Fuel pool number 4 is, indeed, the top short-term threat facing humanity.

Anti-nuclear physician Dr. Helen Caldicott says that if fuel pool 4 collapses, she will evacuate her family from Boston and move them to the Southern Hemisphere. This is an especially dramatic statement given that the West Coast is much more directly in the path of Fukushima radiation than the East Coast.

And nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen recently said (at 25:00):

There’s more cesium in that [Unit 4] fuel pool than in all 800 nuclear bombs exploded above ground…


But of course it would happen all at once.


It would certainly destroy Japan as a functioning country…


Move south of the equator if that ever happened, I think that’s probably the lesson there.

This week, Wyden said that the spent fuel is a national security threat to the U.S.:

AlterNet asked Sen. Wyden if he considers the spent fuel at Fukushima Daiichi a national security threat.


In a statement released by his office, Wyden replied, “The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West Coast within days. That absolutely makes the safe containment and protection of this spent fuel a security issue for the United States.”


[Robert Alvarez – a nuclear expert and a former special assistant to the United States Secretary of Energy] agrees, saying, “My major concern is that this effort to get that spent fuel out of there is not something you should be doing casually and taking your time on.”


Yet Tepco’s current plans are to hold the majority of this spent fuel onsite for years in the same elevated, uncontained storage pools, only transferring some of the fuel into more secure, hardened dry casks when the common pool reaches capacity.

Government Agencies Underplaying Risk … So No One Has to Do Anything Different

Why are American nuclear authorities ignoring this threat?

Well, they are totally captured by the nuclear industry, and:

Nuclear waste experts … charge that the NRC is letting this threat [of the Fukushima fuel pools] fester because acknowledging it would call into question safety at dozens of identically designed nuclear power plants around the U.S., which contain exceedingly higher volumes of spent fuel in similar elevated pools outside of reinforced containment.




In an interview with AlterNet, Alvarez … said that the Japanese government, Tepco and the U.S. NRC are reluctant to say anything publicly about the spent fuel threat because “there is a tendency to want to provide reassurance that everything is fine.”




“The U.S. government right now is engaged in its own kabuki theatre to protect the U.S. industry from the real costs of the lessons at Fukushima,” Gunter said. “The NRC and its champions in the White House and on Capitol Hill are looking to obfuscate the real threats and the necessary policy changes to address the risk.”


There are 31 G.E. Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors (BRWs) in the U.S., the type used at Fukushima. All of these reactors, which comprise just under a third of all nuclear reactors in the U.S., store their spent fuel in elevated pools located outside the primary, or reinforced, containment that protects the reactor core. Thus, the outside structure, the building ostensibly protecting the storage pools, is much weaker, in most cases about as sturdy, experts describe in interviews with AlterNet, as a structure one would find housing a car dealership or a Wal-Mart.

Remember that American nuclear power plants are storing much more nuclear fuel rods in highly-vulnerable pools than even Fukushima.

The NRC and Japanese claim that fuel pool 4 has been stabilized, but:

Nuclear experts, including Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president who coordinated projects at 70 U.S. nuclear power plants, and warned days after the disaster at Fukushima last year of a “Chernobyl on steroids” if the spent fuel pools were to ignite, strongly disagreed with this assessment.


“It is true that in May and June the floor of the U4 SFP [spent fuel pool] was ‘reinforced,’ but not as strong as it was originally,” Gundersen noted in an email to AlterNet. “The entire building however has not been reinforced and is damaged by the explosion in both 4 and 3. So structurally U4 is not as strong as its original design required.”




Alvarez said that even if the unit 4 structure has been tentatively stabilized, it doesn’t change the fact “it sits in a structurally damaged building, is about 100 feet above the ground and is exposed to the atmosphere, in a high-consequence earthquake zone.”


He also said that the urgency of the situation is underscored by the ongoing seismic activity around northeast Japan, in which 13 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 to 5.7 have occurred off the northeast coast of Honshu between April 14 and April 17.


“This has been the norm since 3/11/11 and larger quakes are expected closer to the power plant,” Alvarez added.

(Last year’s big earthquake made a huge earthquake close to Fukushima more likely.)

Boils Down to Money

Of course, it all boils down to money … just like every other crisis the world faces today.

Nuclear power can be safe, or it can be cheap … but it can’t be both. For example, we’ve previously noted:

Apologists for the nuclear power industry pretend there are no better alternatives, so we just have to suck it up and suffer through the Japanese nuclear crisis.


But this is wholly illogical. The truth is that we can store spent fuel rods in dry cask storage, which is much safer than the spent fuel rod pools used in Fukushima and many American reactors.


As the Nation pointed out:

Short of closing plants, there is a fairly reliable solution to the problem of spent fuel rods. It is called “dry cask storage.”




But there is a problem with dry cask storage: it costs money….


Experts say the only near-term answer to better protect our nation’s existing spent nuclear fuel is dry cask storage. But there’s one catch: the nuclear industry doesn’t want to incur the expense, which is about $1 million per cask.

“So now they’re stuck,” said Alvarez, “The NRC has made this policy decision, which the industry is very violently opposed to changing because it saves them a ton of money. And if they have to go to dry hardened storage onsite, they’re going to have to fork over several hundred million dollars per reactor to do this.”


He also pointed out that the contents of the nine dry casks at the Fukushima Daiichi site were undamaged by the disaster.

“Nobody paid much attention to that fact,” Alvarez said. “I’ve never seen anybody at Tepco or anyone [at the NRC or in the nuclear industry] saying, ‘Well, thank god for the dry casks. They were untouched.’ They don’t say a word about it.”

Get it?   The Japanese and American governments are playing Russian roulette with the fuel pools at Fukushima to save nuclear companies from having to spend a couple of million dollars to safely store spent fuel in dry casks.


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DaveyJones's picture

1) as always, thanks for the update George

2) The world is run by murderous thieves

HungrySeagull's picture

Nuke the Complex. Nuke the Rubble and then drop a third nuke to make a hole for the ocean to fill.

The Airforce can solve this within a half day.

I have said this before and will continue to say it.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

HungrySeagull said:

Nuke the Complex.

...sending thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel, formerly existing as fuel rods but now transformed into dust, high into the atmosphere to blanket the northern hemisphere.

Nuke the Rubble and then drop a third nuke to make a hole for the ocean to fill.

What's the point? The first nuke has already cleaned up the site, relatively speaking, at the cost of poisoning the northern hemisphere.

The Airforce can solve this within a half day.

I don't think "solve" is the verb you were looking for.

I have said this before and will continue to say it.

...illustrating that, contrary to conventional wisdom, some ideas are so bad that they won't even be considered by politicians.


Tenshin Headache's picture

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you're an idiot. Do you really want to loft that radiation into the stratosphere/troposphere? It will come down on the US, Europe, Asia.

If there is a steam explosion at Fukushima, you may have the opportunity to see this for yourself.

Bastiat's picture




I have said this before and will continue to say it.


There's no fixing stupid.

jse111's picture

Beauty, money, and glamour are fleeting while stupid is forever!

nah's picture



that would fix this problem too... zion is so important

Jim in MN's picture

Eh, what the hell.  What's the worst thing that could possibly happen?  Oh but make it even worse...I know...let's add...more powerful tornadoes to Japan!


Sunday's tornado one of most powerful in Japan

An expert on violent storms says the tornado that ripped through northern Kanto on Sunday may have been one of Japan's most powerful.

Tornadoes and gusts killed one person, injured 52 and damaged about 900 homes in the region, northeast of Tokyo.

Professor Fumiaki Kobayashi of the National Defense Academy says atmospheric conditions became unstable due to clashes of sunny, warm weather and a cold air mass.

He says strong southerly winds caused cumulonimbus clouds to develop which spawned the tornado.

He estimates wind velocity topped 250 kilometers per hour. Cars were overturned and some houses completely uprooted.

The expert is urging caution against more tornadoes, as atmospheric conditions can turn unstable in days to come.

Monday, May 07, 2012 16:50 +0900 (JST)


HungrySeagull's picture

Oh that.

Get those all the time here in the USA.

Stuck on Zero's picture

The sad part about this is that the spent fuel rods are safe - just as long as they aren't near each other.  Take all those fuel rods and lay them out all over a big field where they can't collectively heat or bombard each other with neutrons and there.s no problem.  Just don't get near the place.  The worst thing you can do is put them all together ...  oops ... that's just what they did.


Arthur Borges's picture

If you're thinking fission reaction, then you may be wrong: I understand that if you slam two subcritical masses of weapons grade together, it's a helluva job to keep them slammed together long enough to trigger a chain reaction and holding them is/was one technical obstacle facing the atom bomb designer.

But perhaps your concern is elsewhere?

Reptil's picture

once a fuel rod is without water, covering it, as a radiation shield, and cooling, the zirkonium will begin to burn. a prompt criticality (of rods too closely packed) is just another danger.

the structure doesn't even have to collapse.. just the water to drain... lucky for us, the fuel pool is intact (not)

they're putting water in at the top - that runs through the cracks - they then pump it back up again.

as GW correctly identified, solving this requires ALL resources from the brightest and most capapable our civilisation has to offer. new solutions must be found.

instead the japanese elite wait, they cannot admit their mistakes, and so endanger human civilisation.

the NRC and IAEA are not a hair better, the fuel pools in the US are even more densely packed.

big fission nuclear plants as a strategy is dead, but just like the financial system, they want to keep it alive with pure denial.

70% or more chance the next year and a half is going to be another huge earthquake. if that happens before they fixed it, it's lights out for the northern hemisphere and possibly the whole planet. (given the fact the plume did cross the equator rather rapidly last year)

something must happen NOW! every second of waiting is a betrayal to humanity itself. this is not an exaggeration; the possibillity is there, the danger is real.

Obama talking about the danger of "terrorism" with "dirty bombs" at some conference, while he and the ones behind him are hindering a real solution with their inaction because of their coverup.

I ask you; when faced with extinction as a species, what must we do?

On which side does the President of the United States of America stand anyway? On the side of the human beings? It doesn't seem to be the case.


Reptil's picture

deposit a wad and some eggs in a jar and throw it in a deep freeze? they dug out a mountian in Norway for just that. got tigers and seagulls and ants and everything. same crowd as who are now covering up this mess.

or possibly the rise of the singularity? humans 2.0 in a mainframe? Last time I looked electronic circuits are even more susceptible to radiation.

or just stooopidd and we're at an evolutionairy dead end because we cannot find a way to dispose of leaders with a severy personality disorder, and exchange for less psychopathic individiduals?

there's some fungi that use radiation as nourishment. but there won't be any pole dancers or Maria Sharapova the next few hundred million years.

nihilism=defeatism (the real kind this time) IMHO

if we do nothing and shrug, we're a goner this time.

Money 4 Nothing's picture

Everything in this world is temporary.

Reptil's picture

Normally I'd just ignore that statement because it contradicts with what I think. It is as true as any blanket statement that is true in itself, but is challenged by an equal opposing truth.

With a chance to outgrow ourselves and break through to higher levels of consciousness, and understanding, in our present form, to just give up just before we reach that?

There are many, many solutions to the simple problems we're faced with. Dealing with this, in a later stage of our evolution (and not de-evolution) will seem like solving the problem cholera by building sewers.

I'm sorry but that is sooooo daft, and cowardly! (no offence meant to you personally, I hope you will forgive my frank language)

Any species which doesn't have the will to survive, will lose that race to survive. IMO that is a self fulfilling prophecy.

Please let me ask you: What are you in your own perception? Have you given up?

i've heard this before: "The planet will survive"

Don't they care this is going to be a multi dimensional catastrophe (a living planet dying), that can be easily prevented even now? Why isn't the White House lawn covered with angry people (of all walks of life) demanding action?

I really really want to live. And I want my offspring to live. With my genes.

SWCroaker's picture

Practice detachment.

Put another way: "Learn to live (or not) with disappointment".

Cortez the Killer's picture

what you are seeking is out of your control

DOT's picture

GE Mark I and Mark II dirty bombs have now been deployed.

Darth Immelt wants to make an example;  will the Emperor let him ?

q99x2's picture

Way the economy is going we won't need energy in the future. Radiation won't be of concern either.

Tenshin Headache's picture

Wrong. It would be of much greater concern, because against the backdrop of economic collapse, the world's 700 nuclear reactors (and associated spent fuel pools) would still need to be cooled 24/7.

Batteries typically last 8 hours at a nuclear plant, and reactor facilities are required to keep on the order of 3 days worth of diesel on site. A severe economic disruption would present a real challenge to keeping the diesel flowing. Refining and transportation could be disrupted for an extended period in the event of an economic collapse.

Hundreds of Fukushimas? It could happen. Even 25 or 50 would potentially be an extinction level event for mankind and other mammals. The US could become, in the words of Jonathan Schell, "a republic of insects and grass."

As an aside, a severe solar storm could cause similar problems (something on the order of the Carrington Event in 1859). As could conventional armed conflict or a "limited" nuclear war.

As Fukushima has shown, once cooling water is gone, it's a matter of hours/days to a radiological crisis.


Everybodys All American's picture

and liberal stalwart Harry Reid will not allow Yucca Mountain to be used for proper disposal of the wasted nuclear fuel rods.

Reptil's picture

Yucca Mountian is supposedly UNFIT because it's not geologically stable (they found a fault beneath): FAIL NUCLEAR STRATEGY

repost from a few months ago

Tenshin Headache's picture

It's a hell of a lot MORE fit than being perched on the edge of the Pacific. San Onofre or Diablo Canyon (interesting name that) could make for a REALLY BAD outcome in Nevada (and the rest of the US).

If we don't start thinking big picture here, we are doomed.

Money 4 Nothing's picture

Not if WIPP has anything to say about it.

HungrySeagull's picture

Yech, I hope they Bury that old man there. He can be first.

John Casper's picture

The root of "conservative," is "conserve."

aerial view's picture

Another clear example where safety is subordinated to profit. All cesium from unit 4 should be dry casked until a comprehensive safety plan is enacted. This disaster could potentially kill hundreds of millions of people-more than all the wars ever fought: truly the most dangerous type of russian roulette ever played by man. I hope the Mayan calendar was wrong!

rsnoble's picture

I'll be staying right here in Kansas. If it gets this far then everyone is fucked and I have no desire to move to some south of the border shithole id rather be dead. It wouldbe ironic if we end up getting wiped out just from power plant fuckups when everyone's been worrying about nuclear war the whole time. I disagree with 'no nuclear war because of money' comments.  You're forgeting the 'crazy' factor.  Some people that have the bomb have no money and are fucking nuts aka N Korea.

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

The door to the hallway of the inevitable has been opened; there are many other doors waiting similar fates............

jiggerjuice's picture

"Updated in real-time every minute"

So according to this website, then, as of today, radiation doesn't seem so bad. Just in the background range. However, I don't know whether this info is irrelevant, since consumption of actual radioactive particles is different than getting hit by external radiation or whatever. California is in the under-50 range, any yet, particles rained down onto the food are now being eaten whenever you grab some veggies at your grocery store... One particle of cesium on a strawberry hitting you isn't so bad, but once you eat it, it's in there, in your blood/bones, radiating away until you melt from the inside. Welcome to cancerville.

In fact, any information that I would call "real" is hard to find at all. I suspect that in ten years we'll see a generation of deformed Japanese children. And ten years after that US cancer rates will start being too noticeable - in my kids' generation. It's already far too late for anyone to do anything. On a long enough timeline, death comes way faster than you think.

mendolover's picture

I don't get why these pools have to be built one hundred feet off the ground.  It can't be less expensive than securing them at ground level.  And with the trillions of dollars of derivitives floating around the globe, what's several million bucks for cask storage?  Soft kill bitchez.  ) :

SWCroaker's picture

Design phase: Engineers plan out a 14 step life cycle for fuel rods.  Steps 1-4 involve staging new ones near the core, pulling and temporarily storing spent rods prior to shipping to final treatment and storage.  (The "temp storage" needs to be as near the reactor core hatch as possible; you'll be transporting very "hot" stuff.  So a pool, raised up so that an overhead crane can move the shortest distance from hatch to storage/retrieval, makes sense as a staging area.  Craning from core top (hundreds of feet above ground level) down to ground level is dicey; much easier to just raise the pool to have it's surface about flush with the core hatch; see any modern hotel's swank roof-top-pool.)

Bean counters howl when reviewing the design.  Too costly!

Engineers revise the design.  They enlarge the necessary quick-access pool (cheap to do) and remove steps 5-14; they are now to be implemented in some future phase, and the flow process will work as a riskier but cost effective temporary measure for the foreseeable future.

Environmental and populist politicians ensure that once a plant is open for business, all fuel from a reactor is prohibited from being transported anywhere outside of the reactor property.

Steps 5-14 are never implemented, and ta-da, you end up with the current situation for essentially every one of these types of reactor plants found across the world.

Simply a culmination of greed, greed, some shortsightedness, stupidity, manipulative self-interest, and a topping dollop of greed.  The engineers knew it wasn't optimal or suitable for long term operation.  The engineers don't have the final say.


It's been said that people *deserve* any governance they tolerate.  By extension, sheeple *deserve* any irradiation that occurs from poorly managed government/industry mutual back-scratching fests.  We should have said "no" to a defective and slip-shop design that puts our lives at risk.  We should have insisted on sane management and design in the first place.  The fact that we've allowed ourselves to be gelded by our government, and feel that we somehow have no right to a say in such matters, points to an earlier, prior failing in letting our rights as individuals atrophy.

HungrySeagull's picture

They were designed and built by people mostly dead and unworried about the timeline.

Joe The Plumber's picture

My wife and kids have their passports. I gotta stay and work but wifey and kids gonna head to Chile

Charles Bishop Weyland's picture


Spoken like a man with actual brain function.

Money 4 Nothing's picture

I will be broadcasting out of Brazil in 2 weeks. Found a great job there too!

Just goes to prove, Corperations are people, they grew legs and ran out of the USA, their not stupid.

cossack55's picture

They say in a nuclear environment that cockroaches will persevere.  I suggest moving to DC, London or Brussels.

Peter Pan's picture

Cockroaches will survive? Damn it, those bankers and politicians just can't be beaten.

rootProbiscus's picture


- if:

  • Fukushima does go pop, and;
  • the Japanese are either evacuees or dead, and;
  • all the other Nukes are abandoned and start going pop, pop, pop, and;
  • this leads to a chain reaction with other continent's Nukes starting to go pop, pop, pop, then

One must ask, just what is the expected half life of humanity, six months, nine months or 12 months.

davood's picture

Anyone remotely thinking about relocating to South America because of this might consider this:

davood's picture

UPDATE: Also, for those of you living in Canada and the U.S., you should be fully aware of the biological warfare (so-called "War on Cancer," i.e., on the "useless eaters") that is being waged against everyone living in North America, most especially the reproductive population, i.e., women.  If you have never heard of mycoplasma, listen and download the following radio show in its entirety.  Almost all modern neurosystemic degenerative diseases such MS, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” Parkinson’s, etc. are ALL caused by the same weaponized pathogen called mycoplasma that everyone in North America is now a carrier of.  Another important reason to think about relocation now while the doors are still open. (most important segment: why women are 6 times more affected than men by these modern neurosystemic degenerative diseases starting at 2:30)

AnAnonymous's picture

Before thinking of relocating, you might want for this to end.

You know, if you think that Japan is going to be evacuated because of nuclear contamination and not nuclear contamination to be evacuated from Japan, you might end chosing to emigrate to the place Japan will use as a nuclear dump to get rid of their nuclear waste problems.

akak's picture


Before thinking of relocating, you might want for this to end.

Before relocating your (non-)thinking, you might want to shove it up your end.


Milestones's picture

yes, of course, use one of the worlds food baskets as storage of necular waste and of course S.A. will greet this open arms. Idiot!     Milestones

AnAnonymous's picture

In US citizen nations, it is quite common to cover with concrete arable land while at the same time pushing farming activity to desert area.

So what?

I named no nation. Everyone delocating to another place before knowing the dump location might find out they choose the wrong place.

hardcleareye's picture

Links to support you statement that Japan will use Argentina or SA as a nuclear waste dump...  or did you just pull that out of your ass?